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Pilot: International Business Office Supporting SMEs (IBOSS)

organised by RIGHT
03 February 2020 - 04 January 2021
Groningen, NL
Organized by Hanze University Groningen

The ‘tool’, IBOSS, is an extension of services provided by the participating GCs/IWPs to SMEs focused on exploring international markets, innovation and value chains.

Skills gaps adressed

  • to seek solutions for regional and business challenges faced by SMEs related to internationalization through identifying and developing knowledge and skills gaps and programmes in support of SMEs
  • to provide SMEs (both members and non-members) of GCW, GCOG and IWPA direct access to internationalization support through student placements and research projects, which could include an IBOSS desk run by international and economic students with support from experts of the university
  • to connect Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) to SMEs in the local areas
  • to bring other intermediaries and business support agencies closer to SMEs
  • to connect Hanze’s Centre of Expertise – Energy and energy education to SMEs interested in accelerating energy transition but also to support collaborations with international research and business networks in renewable energy
  • to connect to other Centres of Expertise and/or research groups that could provide expertise as needed


Evaluation consists of interviews of IBOSS partners and participants, including baseline and end evaluations of participating SMEs of their innovation and international capacities through surveys and declaration letters on innovation expenditure and capacity changes as required by RIGHT WP4 methodology.

Main institutions involved

Learning outcome:

Expected outcomes of the IBOSS pilot are

  • a well-defined IBOSS in the GCs & IWP as a continued service, establishing a long-term collaboration with Hanze (and/or other educational institutions), EEN, and other intermediaries to support SME internationalization in the local area
  • Participating SMEs would have
    • increased capacity for internationalization and innovation
    • better knowledge of and access to intermediaries who could support them in reaching international markets and networks
    • opportunity to cluster in their internationalization efforts with support from intermediaries (EEN) and/or experts
  • Participating students would have
    • better appreciation of regional SMEs and their challenges
    • knowledge of the potential of regional SMEs for innovation and business partnerships
    • insights into future career and start-up opportunities in the region
  • Participating educational institutions/Hanze would have
    • additional access to regional SMEs to strengthen regional capacities
    • better alignment of their curriculum to the needs of practice
    • opportunity to provide practice-based curriculum
    • provide customized/new training for SMEs in internationalization
  • Participating energy transition SMEs and research partners would have
    • additional opportunities to collaborate on energy transition needs, including skills and knowledge gap resolution

Target sectors and stakeholder groups include

  • SMEs and businesses interested to expand into international markets and/or global value chains
  • SMEs and other organizations needing international collaborations for energy transition

Transferability to

  • GCs/IWPs in other parts of the Northern Netherlands and elsewhere
  • cluster organizations, intermediaries and business support agencies in other (partner) regions, whereby educational institutions and applied research groups are willing to support SMEs/industry internationalization


SME impact

  • Awareness of Internationalization business
  • Advise to SMEs on internationalization and related aspects of business developments
  • Training offer on Intercultural Competences for Internationalization for SMEs
  • Clustering SMEs for joint internationalization

Other impacts

  • Creating a functional internationalization ecosystem by connecting and facilitating intermediaries, business students, start-ups, etc. in the region
  • Developing business training and consultancy for SMEs in the region


International Business Office Support Services promo video (in Dutch)